Parker Evatt passed on December 15. Everyone loved Parker. He was an active member of ASCA for his eight years as Director (1997-1985). He never said a negative word about any director who followed and always supported the department and the inevitable changes that come from administration to administration. He was a prince of a man, always smiling and always positive. ~Jon Ozmit

 Bryan Stirling, Gary Maynard, and Jon Ozmit attended Parker Evatts funeral together. They are the three past surviving SCDC Directors, respectively. Larry Fields attended as well, as his service overlapped with Parker’s.

H. Parker Evatt
August 27, 1935 ~December 15, 2023
Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church 1500 Broad River Road
Columbia, South Carolina 29210

The world is a lot less bright with the passing of Parker Evatt. Not only has South Carolina lost
one of its finest and most prolific public servants, his children and grandchildren have lost their role
model, guiding light and rock. Their world si forever changed. Parker was born on August 27, 1935, and departed this earthly life peacefully on December 15, 2023, surrounded by his loving family. He was 8 years old.
Parker's life was ful of kindness and joy, and eh spread ti everywhere he went. No matter where you went with him, he would know someone and would stop and talk to them. He was quick to smile and laugh and you always felt happier when you were around him. He was born and raised ni Greenville,
South Carolina, and graduated from Greenville High School. Upon graduation, he joined the Navy and enlisted as an officer. He traveled all over the world while in the Navy and had wonderful stories to tell of
his experiences. After he completed active duty, he remained in the reserves and retired as a commander. He went on to attend the University of South Carolina, graduating with a BS ni Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree ni Criminal Justice. He was also bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Presbyterian College. While in college, he played every intramural sport they offered and was in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Parker continued playing softball for over 30 years and was an
amazing pitcher. He was also an avid golfer, who played the sport into his eighties with a group of wonderful friends. Being a Gamecock was central to Parker's being. For most of his life, he attended every football, basketball and baseball game they played. He recently had a seat named after him at the baseball stadium. Parker also loved to sing and sung at church, in the car, around the house, and to his wife's dismay, with any bands they went to listen to. He especially loved country music.
He began working for the South Carolina Highway Department for a brief time until he took a leap of faith to become the first executive director for the Alston Wilkes Society, an adult and juvenile organization devoted to helping the incarcerated and formally incarcerated, homeless veterans and children at risk. Adevout Christian for his entire life and a faithful member of Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church, he explained his caling by saying that "Jesus cared about people who were sick and in prison and we should care too." And care he did, running that organization for twenty-one years and changing thousands of lives. Atransitional housing facility for homeless veterans, operated by the Alston Wilkes Society, was recently named after him.
Parker was in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1974-1987, where he was instrumental in passing legislation relating to children's issues, equal rights and issues relating to criminal justice reform. When he became the commissioner for the South Carolina Department of Corrections in
1987, he took his rehabilitative mindset from the outside to the inside of South Carolina's prisons and for the first time developed and implemented programs to address the reasons why men and women were incarcerated in the first place. He implemented educational programs, drug and alcohol treatment and vocational training. His programs became a national model for other correctional facilities, and he was awarded the American Correctional Associations' highest honor, the E.R. Cas Award. The Alex English Reading Improvement Program was the closest ot his heart. It was a program where the incarcerated
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were trained to tutor their peers. Each year, basketball star English would come to the prisons to personally present awards. Evatt told the story many times in his talks across the country that on one occasion when English put a medal around a 75-year-old man who was awarded the most improved student, English asked the man why he wanted to learn how to read at 75. The incarcerated man smiled and said, "because now Ican read the Bible any time Iwant."
Parker was also a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina. His professional awards and honors are in the hundreds and yet he remained humble. He did not seek praise but instead wanted to be remembered for helping others. Some of the noteworthy honors he received are the Algernon Sydney Sulivan Award, Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, Who's Who Humanitarian Award, State Representatives Achievement Award, Child Advocate Award, Louie Wainwright Correctional Award, Citizen of the Year, and Legislator of the Year.
For all his many awards or accomplishments, the greatest joy in his life was his family. He met the love of his life, Jane, through a photo he was shown of her by her brother, where she was posing in the snow in a swimsuit. He met and fell in love with her instantly and proposed within a month. He carried that beautiful photo of Jane in the snow in his wallet until his death. We would always smile when he pulled that photo out through the years and showed people he met and told them their beautiful love story. Their 59-year marriage was filled with such love and devotion that many looked to
them as role models of what a marriage should look like. They traveled the world together, but especially loved living at their lake house in Chapin and their mountain house ni Waynesville, North Carolina. His children and grandchildren will cherish memories of their father and grandfather always making time for them and being their most loving influence and fiercest supporter. He attended every sporting event and every school function they were involved in. His grandsons were beloved by him, and he was involved ni all aspects of their lives. He spent so much time with his grandsons at the lake and frequently took them to the mountain house. The grandsons fondly remember him making them pancakes in the shape of airplanes on Saturday mornings and for always throwing some sort of bal with them. He was affectionately called Pop by his grandsons and over the years his children called him that too. He loved his family and friends unconditionally.
Parker was predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Jane, his mother Ruby Parker Evat, his father Haskell Dewey Evat and his brothers Kent Evatt and Donald Evatt. Surviving family include his daughter, Kathy Evat (Damon Little) of Columbia; son, Alan Evatt of Irmo; and grandsons Jacob Evatt, Daniel Evatt, Dylan Little and Noah Evat.
The family would like to express their heartfelt appreciation to the staff of Wellmore of
Lexington Assisted Living who took loving care of him and treated him like family. The staff and residents referred to him as the "Mayor of Wellmore," as he welcomed others and spread love to all who knew
him. Amemorial service to celebrate Parker's life wil be held on December 30, 2023, at 2:00 pm at Virginia Wingard Memorial UMC, 1500 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29210, with a reception ot follow at the church.
To honor Parker's memory, memorials may be made to The Alston Wilkes Society (3519 Medical Drive, Columbia SC 29203 or Broad River Arts Center at Virginia Wingard Memorial UMC (1500 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC 29210).